By Kim Hayes
When you think of San Antonio, you may think of the Alamo, the championship NBA Spurs or the sweltering heat of Texas. I have never been to San Antonio, but my association with the city is of four remarkable women who have had their lives torn apart by an unfortunate untruth of a coerced youth. The story of the San Antonio Four is as compelling as it is heartbreaking. The film begins with four vibrant young women about to embark on the end of their high school careers with all of the hopefulness in the world, mixed with a bit of carefree living of any typical teenager. There is an unexpected element of jealously and rage that drives the entire narrative of this story and plays into the fate of four friends in a way that is unimaginable. Early in the film, we are introduced to a charming young woman named Liz who tells her account of an eager brother-in-law whose advances she thwarts multiple times over the course of his relationship and marriage to her older sister. This is important because the rejection of his underage sister-in-law drives Javier Limon to exact revenge on Liz in the most despicable way possible. Javier’s obsession with Liz would end up being detrimental to the welfare and happiness of a carefree young woman and her friends embarking upon some of the best things life has to offer. Also of note, Liz and her three friends (Anna, Kristie and Cassie) were all young, gay women in a state very unfriendly to homosexuality, the lone star state of Texas.
As the explorations of love, life and friendship flourished, the four friends were enjoying some time together with the two young nieces of Liz,who adored their aunt and her friends, only to to have their entire world changed in an instant. After a typical day of fellowship and recreation, life went on as normal until the quartet of friends were completely blindsided by allegations of sexual assault on the young nieces of Liz. The four women were quickly arrested and thrown in jail cells separated from one another, not to be united again until at least 13 years later. It turns out that a reasonable rejection of a thirsty and crude man by a decent young woman, turned into an everlasting vendetta to ruin the life of one woman and her friends. Beyond the rejection, Javier Limon began to loathe Liz and her friends for their sexual preference and decided to take steps towards retaliation. Limon allegedly coerced his adolescent daughters to tell a story that they had been molested by Liz and her friends without vetting the story. There were no questions asked and four young women were hauled off to jail to spend crucial years of their lives rotting away trying to prove their innocence while a rejected and fragile man reveled in the fruits of his dishonest actions.
After much stalled advocacy and protest of the sentences of the San Antonio Four, one of the nieces who made the allegations against the SA4 could no longer live with herself by concealing what she knew was the truth. She revealed that the story of her and her sister was a complete fabrication and she had to make things right at the behest of her father, the ever-so-fragile Javier. With threats of having her children removed from her home (by her own father), the young woman retracting her story took the risk. Her confession was helpful in initial releases for the SA4 on a temporary basis as the case is stuck in the court system as the SA4 seek exoneration from the harsh and costly accusations.
Being released from prison and making early strides towards restoration, the SA4 all admittedly had to release much anger to move forward with their fate and hope for justice in their case against the system. There are variables that could control the fate of a fraction of the SA4, including being re-incarcerated on a technicality. There are ways to support the wrongfully accused SA4 by continued advocacy and making pleas to the judge presiding over this case.
When viewing this film, it would be prudent to have some tissues on hand as the unadulterated truth of this film and life, will definitely tug at your heartstrings. The resilience of these women are inspiring even when you want to proxy and exhibit retaliation on their behalf to those who are responsible for their incarceration. This documentary will encourage you to advocate for this case and show support to this amazing team of women who didn’t crack under pressure.
You can watch the film on the ID network or stream it from their site: https://www.investigationdiscoverygo.com/southwest-of-salem/southwest-of-salem-the-story-of-the-san-antonio-four/ Keep up with the women on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SanAntonioFour/ and #SouthWestofSalem #FreetheSA4